When Pennsylvania residents pass away without a will the state decides how to distribute their assets. For single people, this may mean distant family members come forward to claim the property. But on the other hand, it can also mean the state receives the assets.
An estate plan is how people make their wishes known. It covers what you want to happen if you pass away or become unable to speak for yourself. Ultimately, an estate plan allows you to take control.
The first step is to choose a person you can name as a personal representative or executor for your estate. This person is someone trustworthy and organized. While not always possible, the ideal estate plan will name a primary representative and a contingent one.
You can include as much information as you want inside your estate plan. Ideally, your last will establishes your beneficiaries and specify how you want your assets distributed.
If you directly name a person on an account like your retirement account, investment account or life insurance, that will take priority over the name you write in your will. If you update one, make sure to update the other.
Other directions you might want to give include your intentions for your children, pets and instructions for your funeral.
Your last will and testament isn’t the only document you can include. Creating a living trust is also a common part of estate planning, especially for single people. This can make for a smoother transfer of your assets.
You may also want to include a living will and health care power of attorney.
Communicate with your representative as you update your estate plan. Collect information as necessary. You can update your estate plan at any time. The more paperwork you add, the better informed your representatives will be. This makes it easier for them to handle your wishes as intended.